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of evidence from many quarters, his attention was drawn to the
need for a secular system of education to take the place of that of
the Jesuits: the Essay was at once an argument for such a system
and a plan of the studies required for it. The indictment of the
Jesuit education with which it opened was couched in moderate
terms; but, as Voltaire said, it was the more terrible for its -
moderation. First he criticizes it on the ground of its inefficiency.
The pupils learn little else but Latin, and even that is learned so
badly that it has all to be learned over again if they ever need to
make use of it. " Out of a thousand students who have gone
through the so-called course of the humanities and philosophy,
scarcely ten can be found able to set forth clearly and intelligently
the first elements of religion, or write a letter, or distinguish a
good argument from a bad as a matter of course, or know when
a thing is proved or not proved."* Then he passes to a deeper
objection: the unfitness of the Jesuits to prepare their scholars
for the ordinary business of life as citizens. The vice of " monas-
ticity," he asserts, has infected the whole of French education.
Is it conceivable, he asks, that men not concerned about the State,
who are accustomed to rank a professed person above the rulers
of States, their order above the Fatherland, their institute and
constitutions above the laws, could possibly educate and instruct
the young people of a nation ? The remedy for this evil state
of matters is the institution of a national system of education with
laymen as well as clerics serving as teachers. " I am not so unjust
as to exclude the clergy altogether. I gladly recognize that there
are many of them in the universities and the academies who are
men of learning and capable teachers. I am not forgetting the
priests of the Oratory, who are free from the prejudices of school
and cloister, and are good citizens; but I protest against the ex-
clusion of laymen. I venture to claim for the nation an education
which depends only on the State, because it is essentially a matter
for the State, because every nation has an inalienable right to
instruct its members, because, in a word, the children of the
State ought to be brought up by members of the State." f But
straightway the questions rise: who would be the students
under this national scheme, and what would they learn ? The
answer, says La Chalotais, depends on the character and need
of the State* On the whole, he inclines to think that France
* P, i*.                          t P- 17*